page 2 of 2
Device size depends on market research, as well as design considerations. There is some demand for phablets. Some surveys show that phablets are now outselling tablets, however this is mainly in Asian markets. This runs counter to market research.
Sales does not always indicate consumer desire. For example, if you can’t buy (or afford) an iPhone in your country and the next best option is a phablet, it’s possible for a consumer to buy such a device while still preferring a smaller form factor. Conversely, there are a few people who buy an iPhone, but would prefer a larger screen. The screen size isn’t the ultimate selling point of the device. Screen size is an obvious and visible feature. It’s perfect fodder for tech punditry.
As mentioned, larger screen sizes resulted out of necessity, not good design. Many of the best competing smart phones are phablets, or at least have a 5″ screen. This doesn’t mean that screen size is selling the device. Smaller versions of these devices tend to be underpowered and watered down, because they cannot house the batteries and components necessary for the full-sized version.
Phablets are not good design. They have ergonomic deficiencies. Phablets are difficult to use as a phone and almost impossible to use with one hand. According to Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi:
“We certainly see more vendors going after it, but I still believe the opportunity is small because of the compromise the device delivers. It’s too big for a phone, too small for a tablet,”
Given these design issues, I wouldn’t expect Apple to release a phablet. I expect tech pundits to pounce on this when the new iPhone and iPad line are unveiled. Indeed, demand for phablets seems to emanate from the blogosphere, and not market research.
The iPhone 6 will most likely have a 4.7″ edge-to-edge screen. Shrinking the bezel will result in an overall device size comparable to the iPhone 5S. I think it is far more likely that Apple will unveil a 12.9″ iPad for professional use. An iPad nano phablet is possible, but I wouldn’t expect too many options at this point. If Apple manufactures too many models, this will negate economies of scale effects, making their products more expensive. Both design and economics seem to indicate that an Apple phablet is unlikely.